Vlado and Mary Liz, 1957: Part 1

Vlado Fabry 1
Vlado – L’apparition

This next series of letters is dedicated to my dear friend in Geneva, Simone, who was close friends with my mother-in-law Olinka. She was surprised when I told her that Vlado had left behind love letters, because she never heard anything about him having girlfriends. She rarely saw Vlado – he was like an apparition – but she has told me how much Olinka adored her brother, and worshiped him like a god. Simone is my favorite person, and I miss her, so these letters are my birthday gift to her.

The only thing that is disappointing here is that Vlado didn’t keep copies of all the letters he wrote to Mary Liz, his romantic interest of 1957 (and beyond?), but I can imagine Mary Liz must have treasured them. Perhaps they have been lost, but I hope they have been inherited by an appreciate family member, like myself.

(For further context of the events of 1957, I recommend reading Vlado and the Suez Canal.)

7 February 1957

Vlado

When you will receive this, I have no idea, but I wish you could have it in time for St. Valentine’s Day. Because even tho you know it now, I want to tell you again how much I love you. Of course, I want you to realize this every day – but especially on Valentine’s Day.

And Vlado, I don’t expect anything. All I hope for is your happiness and the chance to love you – & please let me. What comes back is not important to me. I am eternally grateful to Him for the mere fact of meeting you. It’s joy to know someone like you.

I say I want to please you because I know that your happiness does not lie in my power alone – I can only add to it, if possible. And you are the only human being whose happiness is of such concern to me.

Mary Liz

Don’t feel as tho you should answer this, please.

Ismailia
22/II/1957

My Dear One,

your letter did not quite make Valentine’s Day (which I eventually discovered to be 14/II) but whatever day it did arrive was proclaimed to be Valentine’s Day irrespective of any conventional date it may be feted by other people. Thank you, my darling, – I am not trying to answer the letter because that cannot be done – I am only trying to tell you that I do not recall ever having been so touched and made so mellow – and at the same time a bit ashamed – deep inside as I was when I read through your lines.

It made me very happy and at the same time a bit sad over my inadequacy to give as much in return as you offer to me. But I do love you – and you know it – as much as my queer warped nature permits me to, and I too and full of tender desire to protect you and make you happy and fill your life with excitement and joy. And I do miss you.

I scribbled a quick note to you on my arrival – it may have reached you just about Valentine’s day if it was not delayed on its way, although if I had realized the approach of that occasion I would have surely tried to add a line or two. There is very little that I can write about myself – the working hours here are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday, and that leaves very little time for any private adventures. I miss my weekend exercise, but got into the habit of making a two hour walk, changing into trot and run as soon as I am out of the city, each night, and for lunch I take two hours off for a sunbath and quick dip into the Timsah Lake (it’s still rather cold and I nearly [ran] into a minefield the first time, but it’s getting warmer and I know my way around now). But every two or three days I spend on the road or “on the Canal”, I should say, making inspection trips, straightening out problems, and holding palavers with the salvors or with Egyptian authorities, or else giving a hand to the UNEF staff on legal problems. As soon as I catch up enough with my work to be able to extricate myself for a few days, I plan to visit the front lines in the north and south and have a look at St. Catherine’s Monastery, and maybe spend a couple of days at Luxor and Thebes. But that will have to wait for a while. In the meanwhile there is the fascination of learning a new trade which more than compensates the lack of free time and exercise and the occasional fleas and bedbugs. Although there was a time at the beginning when I felt rather asea (or acanal) trying to weigh the respective merits of doing a parbuckling job by using sheerlegs or by blowing up camels (which, by the way, does not refer to a zoologic digestion process but means pumping air into oversized barrels attached underwater to a wreck).

Love, Vlado

28 February 1957

Dear Vlado,

It was so good to receive your letter – and I must say it came as a real surprise! I’m afraid I took you at your word when you said not to expect much in the way of letters. However, it didn’t arrive till last Tuesday (more than a week since you mailed it).

Peggy took off on a vacation for three weeks and left me to take her place. It’s fun – writing my own letters and running the show (not completely tho – Mr. S [Stavropoulos] is still here). But it means that I’ve got more on my mind these days and that’s why I didn’t write before this. I can’t honestly say that the work is hard but I just have to use my brain more. Enough of Volunteer Services…

The Ski Club misses you so much. Gary Karmilloff filled in for a while but now he has a London assignment so that the post of Liaison Officer (& V.P) is still vacant. They are planning a weekend in the middle of March to Manchester, Vt. and then I guess the season will be over – too short. Have you had a chance to ski in the Cedars of Lebanon?

Ran into Peter Kempton the other day. You probably know he’s working with Hungarian Relief. Seems like one big happy family! And he is really enjoying the work, I think.

When I read the last part of your letter (about your walk down by the lake) I wished I could fly right to you. But then I remembered what you once said about being close to someone even tho he was far away physically. I feel very near to you Vlado – maybe because you’re in my thoughts constantly.

I love you

Mary Liz

P.S. Let me know if I can send you anything e.g. books or food.

Sunday, 10 March

Darling,

Thank you for your beautiful letter and for making me so happy. And I am so overcome that it is difficult to put into mere words how I feel. When you come back I’ll really be able to tell you.

Don’t be sad if it seems that you cannot give as much in return because that doesn’t concern me. Believe me when I say that it is not so much what comes back that is my happiness as it is the chance to give my love to you – freely. And your “good” nature makes me love you, so don’t accuse yourself that way again. I love you so much now, I can’t see any flaws.

Last night I saw a play by James Joyce, “The Exiles” (incidentally I went with an Irish girlfriend of mine). The main theme had to do with fidelity although there were all sorts of undercurrents, as usual. But he said so much (my program is covered with lines scribbled with lipstick) and one line really struck me. It was a scene with the central figure explaining to his little son what it is to give something & he said – “When you have something it can be taken away from you but when you are given something, it is yours forever.”

As far as form in letters goes I’m afraid I don’t pay much attention to it (as you can see from my letters). Content is more important to me and not only in letters but in literature too. Characterization & plot means more to me than language or style of writing – although I do appreciate the letter.

You are working hard over there – by this time you must have weeks of compensatory time coming to you. When you mentioned in your letter about taking a trip to St. Catherine’s Monastery I recalled the first & only time I visited one. A girl from school was being “clothed” i.e. she received part of the nun’s regular habit thus marking passage from postulant to novice stage. Anyway – this was in a Carmelite Monastery which meant that this was to be the last time family & friends could see her – thereafter she would live a strict cloistered existence. So we could see her but only through an iron grille. Well one of her friends had brought along her four year old son, who appeared quite bright. However, at one point the nun had to leave the room for something and this little boy turned to his mother & said “Mommy, when is the lion coming back?” You can understand him in a way – it looked just like a cage. But I think he’s a little comedian.

You mention doing a parbuckling job by using sheerlegs or a camel. Why don’t they use a parbuckle? But I get the impression that you are there for more than just the clearance operation. Do you have to have to stay there until the problem of administration of the canal is solved?

More questions – is your secretary from Hdqs.? By the way, I must compliment you on your typing – so neat & hardly any errors. What can’t you do?

Called Karol and asked about your apartment. He said David was having a fine time living there and, if it was Mr. Crandall you were wondering about, everything is all right with him. He asked about you, naturally, and I gave him all the news. And he said he was just as well pleased that you didn’t write to him since he then didn’t have to write back since, he said, he was not one for writing letters.

Saw Dr. Kraus and he wants to see the x-rays before starting the exercises. But I don’t think it is necessary (exercises). I’m wearing high heels and can even run for the bus in the morning. Anyway I do have an appointment with him for next week. My doctor knows him – I don’t think very well – but then I guess most doctors know of him.

I think I’m going to call it a day and go to bed; so tired. — Don’t run into any more minefields, it can be dangerous. —

All my love,

Mary Liz

I can’t help but like Mary Liz, someone who appreciated James Joyce, but she did not write down the quote quite correctly, so here is the excerpt from “The Exiles” (Richard is the father, Archie is the son):

ARCHIE, with a gesture: Eh! Not bulls. Because bulls give no milk. Eleven cows. They must give a lot of milk. What makes a cow give milk?

RICHARD, takes his hand: Who knows? Do you understand what it is to give a thing?

ARCHIE: To give? Yes.

RICHARD: While you have a thing it can be taken from you.

ARCHIE: By robbers? No?

RICHARD: But when you give it, you have given it. No robber can take it from you. [He bends his head and presses his son's hand against his cheek.] It is yours then for ever when you have given it. It will be yours always. That is to give.

And now, one more letter from Mary Liz…

7 April 1957

Vlado darling,

It was such a beautiful day today! About 50, not a cloud in the sky, and just a slight breeze blowing, The crocuses are starting to come up in the backyard and already you can hear crickets. Next spring, we must be together–

Was just listening to the news and it said that by Tuesday the Canal would be open to all traffic. I know you’re hearing this from all sides but really you and the other people working on the Canal are to be congratulated (hope that doesn’t sound glib because I mean it). The World Telegram had a article some weeks ago about the General [R. A. Wheeler] and it said at the beginning there was some people who thought the clearance might take close to a year. So you must have a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Yesterday I ran into a girl I worked with at Shell Oil and she said their stock is almost up to what it was but that it had gone down $12 a share in the beginning — and Shell doesn’t even have holdings over there (Royal Dutch does, of course).

Do you still manage to go swimming at lunch time? Karol told me to tell you not to anymore – because of the sharks – “we don’t want Vlado soup”, he said. Sometimes I see him in the hall – and the other day he had a wonderful opportunity to meet Helse. She and I were coming down the stairs from the fifth floor and he was walking toward the elevator. He walked past us first but then stopped to say hello but Helse had kept on walking since she was not coming with me anyway. But maybe he’s lost interest or something.

The Ski Club had its party last Friday nite. At the home of a Mr. Caprario – friend of Dianea’s and not a member. He let us have the complete run of his six-room apt. – very kind and warm-hearted person. You know, even tho I keep meeting such good people you’re the best — of all –. Vlado, I love you so very much and I wish you were coming back soon. At the party I especially missed you and Bill Vaughn only made it worse by saying every time he bumped past me “Tell Vlado to come back – or When is Vlado coming back”.

Mike Shaw was there and was nice enough to take me home. We left sort of early (12:30) because I had to get up at 8:00 the next morning and anyway he hasn’t been feeling well these days. He’s a good kid – a little affected sometimes but a good kid! The party went off pretty well — everyone cooperated wonderfully with the food and we had a film on Norway. The projectionist was telling me about the raw films they’ve received from Egypt and said I could come down and see some of them.

While we’re on the subject of Egypt again — our Travel Counselor is now featuring the Land of the Pharaohs as the ideal place to spend your vacation. I’d like to know who’s kidding who – anyway I don’t believe there’s been much of a response. Still I’m wondering why the thought occurred to her.

Dr. Kraus (saw him a 2nd time to show him the x-rays) sends his best regards and so does Christine and–I send you all my love.

Mary Liz

Portrait of a Bachelor: 1952

King Throstle Beard Indonesia
Vlado, a.k.a. “King Throstle Beard”, at work in Indonesia

Before I begin with the letters of 1952, there is one letter from January of 1951 that needs to be included here first – from Madeline – who met Vlado when he spent 3 weeks in New Zealand in 1950, and she was a big fan of his beard. She writes to him again, one last time in January of 1952.

Also included in the romantic cast of 1952 are “Sweet Little Darling”, a.k.a “The Little One”, and “Guapa mia carinosa”, a.k.a. “My sweet tenderheart”. There is also one letter to Boka, Vlado’s Secretary at the UN. I almost need a chart to keep track of their names! It all seems so innocent – Vlado must have had a hard time getting to know a girl, never being in one place very long, and he must have felt lonely.

New Zealand Government Tourist Bureau
The Hermitage
Mount Cook, New Zealand
January 1951

Dearest King Throstle Beard,

It was the nicest Christmas surprise receiving your letter and the pictures. The pictures, I think, are very good, and I’ve just now been having a peep at them. I received your letter on Christmas Eve, so you can see how good Santa is to some of his favourites.

I really was beginning to think that brilliant young diplomat ex. room 17 P/B had forgotten all about poor little insignificant Madeline Long, frequenter of room 17, but not of the bath. because King Thros. does like a little privacy/ Though Madeline found it very hard to leave room 17, and King Thros. helped her not one little bit.

I don’t know that I can do much about that job of Inspector-General of the New Zealand Tourist Trade, but you could be a little old hermit at the Hermitage, and I could clean out your cave, and steal you a bone when you get hungry. You don’t like the sound of that?

You should have been here Xmas Eve. We looked under all the tables and beds for a man with a beard, but nary a whisker could be found. Everything has been very gay, and the weather just perfect. Last night the most beautiful moon was looking so lonely, with no one to sit under her, and I did think that Vladimir Fabry might have popped in for just a half hour or so, but then he probably would have found it rather hard to get away, because there is a transport strike on just now, and he would not have caught that 1.p.m. bus to Queenstown. My, I wish that strike had happened a couple of months ago.

I do feel unhappy for you having to spend Christmas in that Mad house that you call it. Seems so far removed from anything of that nature here, except of course, when everybody goes a little mad with gaiety especially Madeline Long. Know her? I don’t think you should.

I’ve been playing lots of tennis lately and doing a good deal of climbing, but somehow or other, somewhere along the way something happens to my wind, and I look a great sad sack. I’m going away to stay in one of the huts for a couple of nights soon, feel that it would be just grand to be way up in the mountains on these balmy nights. Could you ask Vladimir if he would like to join me? Or maybe he’s just too busy telling all those madhouse inhabitants how to get out of one sticky bit into another.

It’s so hot today I could sit here with just nothing on and be quite happy, or maybe a blade of grass to keep the locals happy. I thought I had better use my speedy typewriter, because you probably would find it rather difficult to read the things I write down.

I was going to send you a cable and wish you a very happy New Year, but when I looked up the little book of words and saw the exorbitant charges, I quickly shut it again, and thought I had best settle for a letter. When a girl is saving her all to travel and see something of this wide wicked world before she is too old and senile to care anymore, that’s when she begins to think that money is money, and a little more is better that a little less.

Afternoon tea is on and as we have a regular circus in the office every day now for that little event, I can’t concentrate on what I’m saying to Vladimir, and that would never do.

I do hope you find a wee moment to write me again, and tell me what is happening to your present and your future. I too have thought of you so, often, but I never dreamt you would be doing so of me. And even if we should never see each other again that you should write and let me have your feelings is something very precious to always have with me.

Much Love, Madeline

Great Neck 4/1/1952

Milá Boka,

Above all, thank you for your two letters,- really, I would have never dreamed to hope that you would write me so much, the ratio used to be normally 3 to 1 in my favour,- but I do appreciate it, and I was very pleased and happy. I hope that by now you have recovered from the strains of family-life and that no permanent damage was inflicted on you. My mother wrote me that she liked you very, very much / which does not surprise me/, and the next line was that she wishes me for the new year a fine bride /and a grandchild/ and that she hopes that I will make the best possible choice. I wonder how much the second line was a reflection of the sentiments expressed in the first!

I was very glad to hear your voice on Christmas, it was a very nice present, but it made me a little bit sad to think how perfect it would have been to be for the Holidays in Geneva, and having around me EVERYBODY I like. I was a bit scared of Christmas first, in Indonesia I was all the time looking forward to this one when I would be back from the “exile” and in surroundings where I could really feel in a holiday mood. Then I suffered the invasion of Milan and his friends during Thanksgiving,/it was really awful/, and looked with great apprehension at the arrival of Ivan. But he is the real opposite of his brother as far as consideration for others is concerned. We got quite friendly together always consulted each other on our moves and tried to respect each others wishes, and as a whole had a good time. I liked his friends, and of course their age and interests were more in line with mine than in Milan’s case. So it was quite nice. For Christmas Eve I had your father and Tana, Tana Makovická, Milan Ondruš and Karol, – we made up the Christmas tree together, had a Slovak dinner, gave each other presents, and has Slovak music from the records, as well as something less than music from our throats /meaning that we were singing/. Also a nice roaring fire and the scent of pine – and smoke all over the house. Also for New Year’s Eve I was with Tana, we had dinner with Milan O. at your place, and then went together to a terribly stuffy party where we saw the New Year come to the accompanying of Bible- reading, and kept singing “Drink of my eyes and you will not need any wine” – and there was no wine. So we decided that to welcome the New Year with a glass of milk could bring its wrath, postponed its arrival officially for one hour, left the party at 12.40 and dived for the next bar, where we properly wetted our thirsty throats with champagne, and drank our homage to it in this more appropriate liquid. After that we went to a party of Tana’s Airlines-friends, and had a good time,- finishing in New York, and with a hamburger and coffee at Prexy’s /the radio was admonishing us the whole evening that “death has no holidays, and if you have to have one for the road, make it coffee”, so I obeyed/. We became quite good friends with Tana, and I like her quite a bit now.

Well, to come back to your letters and to answer your questions therein:- the green light refers to The One an Only One /what did he do in London, by the way, and why did he not come to expect the New Year in your company/, green of course being the “go ahead” sign, and “no turns allowed while the light is green” is a common traffic sign on boulevards, which I adapted to your case as meaning that you cannot enter any Lovers Lanes on the side while you still drive full speed on the main road of your desires, with The One giving you the “go ahead” sign, but only as far as he is concerned and not for turning towards others. A bit complicated as I wrote now, but I guess you will understand now what I meant. I gave a present to Shine, but not Virginia, – and I received nothing from either. Also I gave my present for the grab-bag at the Office party. As far as the župan [trans.: bathrobe or dressing gown.-TB] is concerned – I have my own intelligence service, but not Olga. I am glad you liked it, I hope my mother bought what I wanted. How did you get on with my papa – I hope he didn’t throw any tantrums while you were there, he gets so easily excited. Why did they not take you out on a car trip to the mountains – is Uncle Bucko ill, or what?

As far as my job is concerned, the following developments took place:
1./ I saw Szeming-Sze, and the Geneva job is definitely out of the question.
2./ Marshall Williams told me that they intend to fill the Trusteeship post by internal promotion,- but nothing has been decide so far.
3./ They do have a post in Narcotics, – in Rey’s Section, they considered me and asked for my file just before Christmas. As far as I learned form Lande, I would be satisfactory except that Rey would like to have somebody English-born, as all of his Section are non-Englishmen and he has difficulties in drafting reports, etc. He told me, however, that if they would not find anybody else, or if I had enough push, my chances would be good.
4./ I saw Martinez-Cabanas and Barbosa, the Personnel Officer of TAA on several occasions. They have now two posts in my grade – and area officer for Bolivia /where I can hardly qualify because of lack of Spanish/, and one for Eastern Europe and the Near East. I would be very keen on the second job, it would be ideal from many points of view, and I think I could make a success out of it. But apparently they want to have somebody from the area, and are now in touch with the Yugoslav Government to get them a candidate. I could not speak with M-C about the job / I learned about it from Barbosa only the day before his departure/, and B. was rather reluctant about the whole thing. I had the impression, however, that it would not be impossible to get the job if M-C would agree, and if Hausner /who is Barbosa’s Superior/ would state that job-less staff members have to be given priority consideration before outsiders are recruited. I will ask Olga to take it up with M-C, and perhaps you could find a way of getting Hausner interested – unless, of course, you think that I should not overdo it and push myself too hard for this particular job. I aslo received and assurance that there may be further jobs in their new budget, but it is not expected that they would be approved before February,- so I would have to remain on my present post until March at least.

Well, I think that’s all – I heard nothing more about Human Rights – did you? And please, do continue to be a sweet girl and keep me posted on what is happening at your end of the world!

All the very best in the New Year and lots of love, Vlado

Suva, Fiji
15th Jan 52

Good Morning King T.

I was entirely delighted and surprised to receive your card, but as you see from the above it had to leave the Hermitage and come across to Fiji.

I have been going the usual round of living here since May last year, and loving it. Such an entirely different life – much more romantic than that dull unimaginative New Zealand. It had its moments of course, when the King Throstlebeards of this world decided to hop around the mountains for a few days.

Just imagine you living in great big New York! I think it a good thing that you have left that horrid Indonesia, because from what I have heard and gathered from running my little eyes over newspapers from time to time there seems to be a lot of stray bullets and even worse things popping round over there. It would be just terrible to think of bullets sneaking around that nice beard. (You are still wearing it I presume.)

Have been extremely lucky here with accommodation – in common with the rest of the world today there seems to be a perpetual moan over the housing situation.. However, your friend Mad Long has got herself all set up in one of the prettiest little houses around. It has been built about two years only, and is nice and clean and modern and – everything. Living with another girl of course, and we have a Fijian girl to do all chores.

I have often thought about you and wondered what you are doing, so you can just imagine how nice it was to receive your card.

As you have probably guessed I am working with Tasman Empire Airways, and using their writing paper and time for my letter writing. The office is undergoing extensive renovations, and by this time next week I shall be sitting in one of the most swept up business places in Suva. In fact, we’re trying to persuade our Manager to put us into sarong type of frocks with hibiscus flowers tucked in odd places on our persons, just to have a tropical effect you know. You can just imagine how this conservative British atmosphere would react.

I guess you have much more interesting and necessary things to do than read letters from me to you. Many thanks again for remembering me at Christmas, and lots of nice things to you for the New Year. I am enclosing a small picture of me taken at the back of the house looking ever so tropical.

Mad Long

Great Neck
10/3/52

My dear Little One,

It’s ages since I wrote you last / you see, I admit it freely/, but I have not forgotten you nor stopped to feel towards you the sweet, soft and warm longing that I had ever since we parted last summer. It’s just that I didn’t feel like writing, or that I had a lotsfull of other things to do, or that I was much too tired to write, or some other thing happened. And also, I did not get so much to hear from you to be coaxed into a real effort of writing – to wit, I received only one picture-postcard the last two months.

I believe that you will be probably back from your skiing holiday by now,- and I hope that you managed to have lots of fun without getting any parts of your anatomy into a loose-flapping state. Also, that you got some sun after all. Also that you do not think any more of skiing as something difficult, but that you ski by now as easily as you think /or rather that you came to that blissful stage of skiing where it is enough to think of a movement,- and lo and behold, your skis and body do it all by themselves!/ I sincerely hope that I may have a chance to see you perform before this years snow melts completely away, although I still have no concrete clues as to whether and when that may be.

I did quite a bit of skiing this year myself, practically every weekend since New Year. That also partially accounts for my backlog in correspondence – and sleep. The winter was rather mild around NY, so I had always to drive at least 700 miles each weekend to get to and from the snow – and that’s nearly as much as from Holland to Switzerland. I didn’t get any chance so far to get away for longer than from Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 9 a.m., and consequently had to spend practically every Friday and Sunday night, or at least the greater part of it, behind the steering wheel. My former skiing partner from the Tatras is now in New York also, so we usually went together, and it was a bit like old times again. Unfortunately, he does not drive, and anyhow, he usually slept the whole journey through. Occasionally we took along some company, but usually I had only Little Carrot Nibbler /remember the little fellow?/ and memories of you to keep me company.

I tried also to keep up my horseback riding, and occasionally manage to squeeze in an hour or so before going to the office. But mostly I am just too tired and sleepy to get up at six, and besides it is not such a pleasure to ride now on soft ground and in the usually cold and wet and dark mornings. So I seldom ride more than two days each week.

Helenka’s Slovak cooking and my sedentary life ganged up on me, and I have gained 15 lb. since I came back. I’m a real fatty again. It is true that after each weekend’s exertions I manage to lose three or four pounds, but that only increases my appetite, and before Tuesday is over, the weight is back again, usually with interest. I guess I better become reconciled with the idea of a nice potbelly.

My social life continues very active. I had invitations to some of the plushiest events of the Mardi-Gras season, and the moths didn’t get much chance to get into my tails and dinner-jacket this year. I am getting quite cynical about those things which worries me a bit,- the other evening I caught myself calculating the real-estate and property value of each girl with whom I went to dance and felt quite ashamed. But I made a few friends among the Wall-Streeters, and I am now following closely the Big Board, share-value analyses and earning-prospects, and hope to use the stray bits of information which I am getting from here and there to improve a bit my financial situation by putting my savings to work for me on the Market. With nearly half of my salary going to Geneva, and life in New York being expensive as it is, I sorely need some additional source of income. If only one would have more time for those things – but the UN is such an old fashioned type of Organization which demands its employees to work for the money it pays them, so I have to steal the time from where I can, mostly sleep and correspondence and reading. Besides, I started to learn Spanish, and that takes some of my time too.

I still do not know what my future assignment in the UN will be – ce n’est que le provisoire qui dure seems to be a very true saying, and my temporary assignment to the Legal Department still continues. But I already have my eyes cast on something – the post of legal adviser to the Technical Assistance Administration, it’s a new, important outfit, where I might have chances to advance, an interesting and central job, and a chance to learn a lot. The post is still in doubt, the Legal Department doesn’t want to give up its prerogatives and let another outfit create a legal post, but I think that it will be set up eventually, and then I will have to go really to work to beat the competition which probably will start for the post. But at least I know now what I want.

Well, I think I wrote you about all what there is new about me. Still two questions to answer from your 1/1 letter: I spent Christmas in my house, having invited a dozen homeless Slovaks and made a real Slovak Christmas Dinner, with Slovak songs, traditional dances under the Christmas Tree, gifts, and so on. I enjoyed it a lot. For New Year I had four invitations into private homes, and I took them in turn,- the stuffiest first, and the gayest at the end. And what did you do?

The letter ends here, with the last page missing. We learn soon enough why Vlado is learning Spanish. But first, the most amusing letter of 1952 is the last letter from “The Little One”:

The Hague
17th April 1952.

My dear Vlado,

Here at long last is a letter from me. I am so sorry that it took so long, but lately I have been very busy. The reason for this is, now please hold tight to your chair or whatever you are sitting on, that I am going to be married. It is all rather quick and I would have written before had I known it myself, but as my husband to be has to be back in Indonesia in the beginning of May we decided to get married before he is going.

I have no idea what you will think of this, but as you suggested in another letter that I had better look out for a husband, I don’t think you will mind too much. I am awfully sorry in a way, as it will be ages before I will see you and there will be no more holidays with you, but one can’t have ones cake and eat it too. I sent you an announcement of my marriage in the hope that you can read enough Dutch to make sense out of it. But before you got it I wanted to write to you myself. I hope you will wish me luck as I am sure that I will be very happy.

I’ll write to you at a later date and a bit longer, if you want me to, but at the moment I have not got much time. I hope that you will write to me.

Love, “The Little One”

Room 3478
NY, 20.11. 1952.

My sweet tenderheart,

I am going to write to you in English – it will be good for your practice, and besides I am too tired and involved in other thinking to make out anything comprehensible in Spanish. It’s nearly eleven at night, but I am still in my office waiting for my secretary to finish typing some drafts which I have to correct and get out to the night-shift for documentation. I am retroactively paying for my vacation, and have to make up the lost time.

My trip here was pleasantly eventful,- while waiting in London for my plane-connections I had the chance to see the Lord Mayors Show, a big medieval pageant with all the trimmings of tradition, glitter, costume and showmanship that the English can still so well produce /the Spaniards also, I don’t doubt that, but I never had the opportunity to see and compare/. Then, after a very rugged flight with icing conditions up to 8000 feet and 250km/h headwinds above, our plane was forced to change course and land in Iceland for refueling. After persuading the authorities that I was not carrying mouth-and-hoof-disease, and an assorted waiving with Laissez-Passer and other documents, I was permitted to leave the international airport, hopped in a taxi, and went exploring the countryside. I could not see much in the darkness, but still managed to get some good views of one of the geysers in the car’s headlights, and get an impression of the force of the waterfalls from their thunderous ramblings, their spray and the darkness of the abyss in which the river disappeared./I sent you a picture of them how they look in day-time, hope you had received it./ New York greeted me with sunshine and a summery breeze so warm that I felt silly even in my light coat. I can’t imagine Geneva in snow.

Most of my time I spent apartment hunting, a rather difficult predicament in view of my expensive tastes and thinning bank-account. I finally had to make a compromise /slanted quite heavily in favour of the bank-account/ and settled yesterday for a place on 37 East 83rd Street in Manhattan /which, incidentally, is my new address if you should care to write me/. It’s what they call here a three-and-half room apartment, consisting of a small bedroom, a fairly large living room, a kitchen in a wall closet, and entrance hall in which, if one is thin, it is even possible to turn around, and a good-sized bathroom with a three-way shower compartment nearly as big as the bedroom. That part is the only luxurious one, and I am looking forward to some pleasurable loafing in combined water streams coming from above, below, and the three sides. The address is a good one /which is very important here/, but in spite of the fact that the apartment is on the top floor I don’t have any penthouse-like view, because the houses all around me are even higher. I also don’t have any terrace nor fireplace,- but then, I am paying some 150 $ a month less than in any of the places which had such frills, and that is also something. So as a whole I hope I did not make a mistake, and shall be able to stay there for a few months until I get tired of it.

By the way, I did not have time to write all this to my family /nor will I presumably have time to do so in the near future/, so if you should Olga please relay to her the information. I am moving in this weekend.

I am thinking back with little tinges of sorrow of my wonderful Geneva days – and I am experiencing something I never felt before, a feeling of loneliness and emptiness. I got so accustomed to look forward to your company in the evenings and over weekends, that somehow my subconscious came to expect it as a rightful due and not as a godsend which does not belong to the undeserving, and feels cheated and unhappy now that it does not have it. On the other hand I lost the interest in my other friends that I had here, and as a matter of fact I did not look up any of them so far. There is a vague feeling of longing and of missing in me, and the work I have is a not so unwelcome escape from it.

Well, I see that I wrote more than I ever have to anybody except my family and that I am letting myself be carried away by my feelings even here in the atmosphere of stark reality and competitive fight for survival. What an “unamerican activity”! If somebody should read this I might get involved into an investigation as a “bad security risk” or one who “puts loyalty to a particular person or persons above that to the Cause”. I better stop putting things on paper. But you might by now know, even without my writing it, what goes on in my heart.

Hasta la vista, guapa mia cariñosa – and I hope I can make it soon.

Love, Vlado

New York
25.12.1952.

Guapa mia cariñosa,

It’s Christmas day and I am remembering those with whom I would have liked to be on these Holy Days. I wrote to my family yesterday, and today it is first and foremost to you that I am sending my greetings, my best wishes, and my love.

I am in a slightly melancholic mood thinking of you all and regretting of not being able to be with you. And this year in particular I could have had around me all those I like, as you were at our home for Christmas dinner. However, I should not grumble, as my friends took care to make my own holidays as nice as they can be for a lonely bachelor. As a matter of fact, I had two Christmas celebrations: last weekend I was invited to a family which celebrated earlier because one of its members is expecting a baby just about now, and yesterday I had dinner under the Christmas tree with my Slovak /and some Czech/ friends, and then a party which lasted until 8 a.m. Today I had the traditional x-mas lunch of choucroute-soup with spare ribs and sausages, and another party is coming up tonight. So I could not exactly claim to be deserted, although it still does not help me from feeling lonely – nothing can replace the presence of those one loves and misses.

I received your letter yesterday morning. From its feel I could guess that it contains a gift, so I did not open it until evening, when we were discovering our gifts under the tree. But then of course I was subject to all sorts of jealous questions, especially from Karol Krcmery and had great difficulty to hide away your letter. The handkerchief joined your menu guide in a place of honour on my dresser, it will be used only on exceptional occasions deserving such high esteem.

I hope that my letter arrived in time and that the needle of the barometer did not move during the transport. If it did, put it back in the place where you know best it belongs. By the way, you know now what L K means, don’t you?

With best wishes for the New Year, and a special wish for both of us: that we can spend a lot of it together!

Lovingly, Vlado

When I read this last letter for the first time, I was really frustrated, because the initials “LK” are engraved on a few things, and I still don’t know what that means!

After 1952, there is not much romance to be found, until 1957, when Vlado meets Mary Liz, whose letters to Vlado are full of intelligence, depth and feeling. Those letters will be posted next, in a series.

Portrait of a Bachelor: 1951

Vlado with girls
At last, here are more love letters from Vlado. In 1951, he was just 31, so he was having a good time, dating lots of girls, and not interested in settling down to marriage. “Sweet Little Darling” is given more than a few hints about his need to be free, but her last letter to him is not until April of ’52; which I will include in the next post. Teckla M. Carlson (who has another letter here)was a travel agent from Spokane, who made friends with Vlado while travelling in Europe, and she appreciated his colorful letters, too. “Boka” was Vlado’s secretary and friend at the UN, and he seems to tell her everything – lucky for her, and us!

New York 22.8.51

My Sweet Little Darling,

Just a short note to let you know that I arrived well and that I am thinking of you all the time. I didn’t feel it maybe so strongly when my family was around me all the time, but now that I am on my own I realize how much you have become a part of myself and how it hurts to be separated from you. I am still not sure whether I love you enough to overcome in me the resistance against the taking of such a binding and definite step as a marriage is, and neither am I sure how lasting my feelings for you are and whether they would suffice to give me the power to transform myself into an understanding and forgiving creature for the long years of married life. But if longing for somebody’s presence is a sign of love, then it is a fairly strong one in my case. This longing is getting more constant and persistent now. Before it came mostly at special occasions, when I was seeing something that I would have liked you to see also, when I had some nice food or went to a good show, when the sun was shining and I felt like taking you out for a drive and stretching out at some flowery meadow, or (most often) when I was climbing into my lone bed. But now it is here all the time,- even while I am working I feel a compelling urge to dash out somewhere and meet you for a while, for a few words and for a few kisses.

My future is still as hazy and as muddled as it was when I was leaving. All the effort and goodwill that I tried to invest in my boss in Geneva seems to have dissipated into nothing – and not only am I in no position to choose an assignment which would bring me nearer to you (as I was half-ways promised in Geneva), but I will have a hard and uphill fight for maintaining my bare job. Things look quite bad here. Moreover, there are difficulties in my immigration status – they refused to admit me properly without a valid passport,- and unless I can do something about it I will be in a nice mess. Everything seems to be gone wrong since I have returned – even my driving licence is messed up, I had my third speeding ticket just before I left in 1949, I have forgotten all about it, but not the Bureau of Motor Vehicles which promptly suspended my licence and I just don’t know what I will be able to do about it. So you see, I need a bit of good luck or at least something to compensate me for all the adversities,- and now I am without you.

I am staying at the Beekman Tower Hotel, 3, Mitchell Place, New York 17, NY. It’s quite nice, high up in the clouds, with a view of the East River and most of New York, and only two blocks from my office. But the room is very small, I have no place to move around myself or my belongings, and it’s much too expensive in the long run. But without the possibility to drive I can’t go anywhere else. So you can still write me there for some time to come.

Otherwise there isn’t much about me to report. Write me soon, my Darling, if I cannot see you I long the more for something that would materially establish a nearer contact.

Love, Vlado

Great Neck 7/10/1951

My sweet Little Darling,

Here I was, waiting impatiently for a letter from you (nothing came since the one dated 9/9), and when it finally came, there were only 79 words in it, including date and signature. I was a bit disappointed, but then, I didn’t write any more since 3 September either, didn’t I? So I am trying out now whether the old maxim “if you want to receive long letters often, you must also write some from time to time yourself” will prove true, and I’m switching from the meager postcard diet to a fatter meal of a letter.

I was thinking a lot about you, specially the week you were alone in the house, and I was quite seriously thinking of inquiring at the KLM whether they had not some of their stewards sick so that I could get a job on the NY-A’dam run for two or three flights, preferably over the weekend. But then I remembered that stewards have to take care of babies and mothers on the plane, and I am quite sure that I would be no good at that,- and by the time I came around to thinking of some other possibility, the fortnight was over. So we have to postpone it for some other time – or maybe you could get yourself a job as a Stewardess – you would be awfully good at it, and you would have a rather nice house waiting for you at this end to receive you every time you land, with all the trimmings, including a pre-warmed bed if you still like to have it. Quite seriously, don’t you think it would be a nice job – you wouldn’t need to fuss over your shorthand, you could make good use of your language knowledge, helpfulness, and charming self, it would solve your travel-itch, and you might even land a nice husband if you should decide you want one (provided, of course, he wouldn’t mind that I would continue to see you).

Sorry I didn’t come around to send you some more of the pictures – I simply don’t find time to do anything. But it’s high up on my must list, to go to town and have some more enlargements made. I didn’t even touch my camera since I came back from Europe, and so you will also have to wait for snaps of the house. I also made a note to get hold of the “I am late, I am late” record.

I am quite pleased with life at my new place, and I am getting on quite well with my co-resident, mainly because I never see him. My housekeeper got very Americanized while I was away, she is grumbling if she has to work after dinner, and she made me a cheese-cake the other night with commercial cottage cheese, instead of making the cheese herself. But still, it’s quite pleasant to have every day one’s clothes freshly pressed and laid out, to have one’s food properly prepared, and to be rid of all the unpleasant worries about the small things of one’s home. It’s also nice to be out in the open country, near golf and riding stable, although sometimes I grumble a bit about having to drive every day a hundred kilometers through New York traffic to get to the office. It takes a bit too much time, and with social engagements, professional reading to catch on, and personal business to take care of, it leaves precious little time for myself. Most of it I spent unpacking, checking and rearranging my belongings – I never realized before I had such masses of them – and getting settled. Over weekends I played furiously golf, last week I managed to make 45 holes on one Saturday, wearing out two partners for 18 holes each, and making the last nine a solo. I also found a riding stable near-by, and twice got up at 5.30 for a stroll and canter before leaving for the office. I have to try hard to do something to keep my fat tummy down after the treats it gets every morning and dinner from my cook. I cut out lunches completely, but then I am having chops or a steak every morning on top of my ham-and-eggs, and Slovak desserts at dinner don’t constitute a reducing diet either. Yesterday I went swimming, and then made six miles in a brisk trot along the beach, until I had to admit shamefacedly to my companion, the girl [Boka.-TB] with whom I also usually play golf(by the way we are very old acquaintances, and she knows me much too much to think any good of me – to answer your question), that I couldn’t run any more (she couldn’t either, by the way, but was bluffing to stop me running first). And to-day it’s pouring cats and dogs, so I’m staying at home and will do some reading.

Last Monday I had a phone-call from a girl I met five years ago in Cuba. I had forgotten all about her in the meanwhile, and as she identified herself only by her first name, I had to leaf through stacks of old correspondence to find a reference to her second name when I went to call on her. After all, you cannot barge-in into the Waldorf Astoria and search for a Miss Coquitta Idontknowwhatelse. But I found the name finally, although it made me more than an hour late for my appointment. And she was a bit disappointed apparently that I didn’t quite respond to her temperament – well, I’m not quite the same as I used to be five years ago in Cuba, and besides she didn’t please me any more as much as she did then. You know the old story,- I have met somebody in the meanwhile whom I like so much, much more, and although I still am not above meeting another nice girl, and having fun with her, I think I ceased to be quite the “free agent” I used to be before. But it was quite an amusing game, keeping aloof and watching her getting more and more excited and temperamental as I continued to remain amiably and graciously, but correctly, polite.

The week before last I was invited to participate in a meeting of the so-called Czechoslovak National Council, where they were discussing their future policy. I got quite disgusted with some of the dear old politicians, they seen to have overslept some twenty years, or else being in a backward development and on their way to fossilization. But it was also quite pleasant to be for two evenings in a dream-like atmosphere, where the restitution of the old order in my home-country was a naturally accepted reality. I refused, however, to be dragged into any of the groups, and intend to remain independent and apart of emigree politics.

Well, I guess I made up in the size of my letter for the gap in correspondence. I am now awaiting eagerly a dozen of long, long and longing epistles from you.

Love, Vlado

Palace Hotel, Madrid, Spain
Oct. 19th 1951

Dear Vladimir,

I think so many times of our little trip from Geneva, Switzerland by train to Basel, by airliner to Brussels and our sight seeing trip together in Brussels. I lost your card with your new address so if you write me again please give it to me again. Have spent one month here already 8 days in Switzerland 10 days in Scand countries and 10 days in Spain now I leave tonight for Paris for one week and then to Jerusalem for 10 days. Then I go home, hope to be there by Nov. 15th if all goes well. Please do write to me in Spokane.

Your traveling companion, Teckla M. Carlson

Thursday night.

My sweet little Darling,

I could really slap myself into the face for the way I am behaving towards you. I just don’t deserve it that nice girls like you should care for me – and sometimes I wonder how you still manage to do so. When I am looking at my father and mother – both wonderful people, kind and human,- I can’t understand it where this nasty egotistic streak in me came from. In my better moments I fight against it and here and then I am even able to suppress it for awhile. But then it comes up again and somehow I always achieve to hurt most those people to whom I have most to thank for. I do realize my caddish behaviour, and it make me thoroughly unhappy, but I don’t seem to have enough willpower or stamina to make myself act otherwise – or at least not in time. I do want to do good, and at the end I usually wind up making a thorough mess of everything and spoiling everything. What a curse to have a devil like that warring inside!

And I hate the telephone. I was never very good at it, even for strictly business calls, but I never thought it could be so awkward and difficult to speak over it to somebody I love. I just simply couldn’t tell you any of those things I would have liked to – how much I miss you, how I long for your tenderness, for your love, for your companionship, for the fun and giggles we had together, how empty and lonely I feel sometimes, how I would like to talk to you, show you things and take you places, kiss you and hug you, feel your soft, warm and loving presence near me, touch your smooth skin, press you in my arms,- and many other things which I don’t even feel like writing. Instead I spent precious minutes in a silly argument. I loved to hear your voice – you sound terribly British over the phone, much more than when you speak to me directly – but it only made me realize to more your absence. My mind just refused to click properly, and I kept arguing around in circles. Oh darling, everything is so much easier when I can see you and be near you!

I don’t think, however that it would have made much sense to meet you here in Geneva. Apart from the complicated and expensive travel for you, the conditions and atmosphere under which I am living here would not have been conducive to a happy being together. My family is definitely jealous of you (or anybody else who “dares” to diminish by a few minutes the time which they can spend with me), I have work to do and duties towards my job to keep in mind, I would have been torn in between all this, and unable to behave humanely. You know how tense and upset I can get about such situations, and how unpleasantly I behave in such cases. We had such a nice time together, and I try frantically (and without success) not to do anything that would spoil the memories of it. Besides, I took an engagement for this weekend to go out with my new boss, and I simply could not cancel it now. I know it’s egotistic and nasty of me to state that to you, who has done everything for me – but that’s how I am, always looking for my own good more than for other people’s feelings.

I think it will be much more fun to be together in London – we will be all for ourselves, without anything to bother us except parting. The exposition is supposed to be quite good, we can go to some theaters together, and I already wrote to my friend there to get me some introductions into the poshier nightclubs – we will be finally able to “make the town” together. I phoned for accommodations immediately after I talked with you, they were full at the Cumberland, but I got two communicating rooms at the Grosvenor House. They are sending me also the theater plan so that I can make reservations in advance. Tomorrow I will get you your plane ticket – I will choose a late plane on Thursday night, so that you will arrive at about the same time as I, and you will miss only one day (Friday) in your office. I am leaving London Sunday morning, the latest possible plane which will bring me to New York in time for office on Monday,- and that gives us two full days and three nights,- except for a few hours on Friday when I will have to take care of some of my father’s business, and maybe an hour more to see my friend, whom I cannot completely disregard as he is arranging the nightclub introduction for me.

Darling, however much I am looking forward to the chance of being together with you, I would rather miss it than cause you thereby troubles and difficulties. I have no right to demand such things from you, and it would make me very unhappy and spoil our being together if it should be in any way detrimental to the relations with your family or to your good name. We must be reasonable about it. It’s all my fault, stubborn, egotistic bachelor-perseverance, but things being what they are we must face the consequences. So please, darling, think it over well, and don’t hesitate to cable me if you think you cannot make it.

It’s getting light outside and I better finish. I still have a contract to go through for my father, and a hard day tomorrow (or rather today) at the office. That’s all I can report about me – work; I did little else since I returned, haven’t been out anywhere except for a small drive with Mom and Sis on Sunday. And I am feeling very blue, unhappy and lonely without you!

Be happy, my sweet little darling.

Love, Vlado

11.11.1951.

Milá Boka,

I feel lonely without you – nemám sa ku komu íst poradiť a nemám nikoho na kom by mi záležalo a s kym by mi robilo radosť deliť sa o prijemné zážitky. Not that I would be short of girls,- but it’s not quite the same.

Tana I see quite often, and she looks quite well and moderately cheerful. She had been afraid she had stomach ulcers, but her doctor said she only had anemia / no wonder she has it, the way she is scared of fresh air and outdoor exercise/,- but personally I think it’s all just nervousness and quite an overdose of introspection. What she seems to need would be some boy-friends in whom she could get interested,- but she doesn’t seem to want it. I escorted her to a party of AirFrance people, and there were quite a few good lookers who showed interest in her, but she just sat in her corner and didn’t seem interested at all. Well, somebody might come one day and sweep her off her feet, I only hope it will be a boy who will appreciate her and who will be worthy of her. I am going again to visit her this afternoon; I am giving a dinner to her boss / Mrs. Eshaya/ and she wants me to meet another Roumanian girl whom I should also invite. But you will probably hear more from herself.

My weekend in Boston was very successful – I was invited to a family in one of the very nice residential suburbs, and they had five girls in the house / age 1 to 22/, plus two more whom they asked to come for the occasion. Although it’s only a few miles from the city, they have very nice unbroken forests all around, and I spent most of Saturday cutting a trail through them. I also met a rather fascinating divorcee from the Gardiner family, and to my great surprise she appeared at the last moment at the train and traveled with us coach although she had a Pullman ticket. She asked me to call her up at her New York apartment – but she is not in the phone book and the operator could not locate a phone at the given address. So I don’t really know what to think of it. I would have had no time to do it anyhow, I had socially a very busy time. Rhoda Neilson / my friend’s from Djakarta who are divorcing/ came to New York and we saw each other a lot. I also made friends with an English girl, who seems to be quite taken by me, and very pleasant company, and with a Swedish-born American, who plays double for somebody in Seventeen, who probably doesn’t care a bit for me but who is a master in the art of making one feel that she is enjoying his company. Besides, she is physically exactly the type for which I go.

I didn’t play much golf since you left, the weather was not too good. I planned to go yesterday / and it is one of those lovely Indian Summer days/, but then I started raking leaves in the garden, collecting wood for the fire-place, and doing similar chores, and it kept me busy until after dinner. Last Saturday we had the first snow – it melted quickly here, but was beautiful upstate where I went for a drive.

Tana Makovická sent the copy of the letter from Schwelb to Dr. K., but she wouldn’t let me have a look at it. She only told me it is not hopeless; but I did not see any vacancy listed any more in the new edition of the bestseller. The P-3 in Trusteeship, territorial research division, is still posted as vacant, also a job in the Narcotics Division / P-3/, about which I had told Dr. K. Friday afternoon. I received a reply from Barbosa about the job in the Reports Division of TAA – informing me that my application was not successful in the Junior Promotion Board. I will try to find out why, and will try to see what else I could get there. From your end I would appreciate to look after the Trusteeship job and see whether I could get anywhere in Human Rights. If not, let me know please and I will ask Dr. K. to see Steinig about the post in Narcotics. Also please check on Olga about jobs in Green’s office and in Economic Affairs in general, and on jobs in the Refugee office. And let me know what the score is, please.

How are you doing? – And how is Costi?, give him please my very, very best, I’m really sorry that I cannot see him, but then, he is probably much happier in Paris than he would be here right now anyhow. And how do you like Olga / but honestly/, do you think she ever will be able to stand pat on her own feet and make headway, or do you consider her rather the protection-requiring type? I hope she is not too much nuisance for you. You may meet my mother too, there was an indication in her last letter that she might go to Paris to have a look if everything is OK. I hope they will let you alone, though,- I remember how you “liked” “stará” [translation: "old lady" or "old girl".-TB] and I surely would hate it to see my family included into the same category.

Thanks for your nice little missile from Halifax – it cheered me up a lot. Write to me again soon, please.

All the best in everything, Vlado

Great Neck, New York 2.12.51.

Milá Boka,

Thank you for the birthday wishes – really sweet of you not to forget about it! You really make me feel ashamed, I tried to rake my brain but I forget completely when your birthday comes up. Will have to do some sneaking in AW’s files to find out.

I am glad you are getting on alright with my sis – I was a little bit nervous how it would work out and scared that my family would encroach upon you / you know I do not want too much competition/. She didn’t write me a line yet / neither did I/,- but antiscribitis runs apparently in the family. Is she still épris by her Dutchman or did she get somebody else for a change in her silly-sweet little head? I hope you impress her with the advisability of looking after sausage kings, specially Latin American ones. And how are your chances looking – or is it still and always The Only One, and no turns allowed while the light is green?/ Is it green, by the way?/ I have quieted down a bit, my divorcee went back to Chicago, and I never found the other one. Also skipped the would-be-actress, it was nice for a change, but it would have probably run into too much money if I would have tried to keep it up. The English girl is still around, we usually drive out together Saturday or Sunday, and have dinner here, and about once a week I have dinner at her apartment in Manhattan when her room-mate is out. My girl-friend from Holland is coming to Paris on the eleventh, I asked her to look up Olga, so you can also look her over a bit and tell me what you think of her. If only she was like you are, or only if you loved me like she does, my household problems would greatly advance towards a satisfactory solution. Still, my private life is not unsatisfactory at the moment, although I am spending more money on food and expenses than I thought I would, and I just don’t find the time to do all the things I want. The approach of Christmas is worrying me a bit, all the cards I will have to send, and the gifts – although I think I will not give gifts to anybody but my family and Helenka, don’t you agree?

I am also getting a bit worried about my job since the end of the year approaches and I don’t know whether you can carry me on after that. I saw Barbosa, but he was not hopeful at all. Hausner is also gone. Do you know anything about the Human Rights job, or is that out? And what about Trusteeship? I saw Lande from Narcotics again and took him out to lunch, he told me that the post in his Division is still not filled, but that it is entirely up to Steinig to decide. Could you please let me know how things stand at your end? Balinski is coming back by the end of the year, and I am sure that Krczkiewicz[sp?-TB] will try to push him into the trusteeship job, so if something is to be done, it has to happen before he returns. Did Olga find out anything about jobs in Economics or in the Refugee office?

I didn’t see too much of Tana the last two weeks, but I have two dates with her for the next. I phone her from time to time, and was glad /and rather surprised/ to hear lately that she feels physically fit. Your Daddy being with her helps probably to make her forget her troubles. It also rather surprised me that she likes to…

…and the letter cuts off here on a humorous and somewhat intriguing note. She likes to…what?
I will be publishing the letters of 1952 next, so I hope you are as amused and enamored by the private life of Vlado as I am, and will return to read more.

Photos of Hammarskjold

Several months ago, I was sent something serious that has been troubling me, and I have been reticent to write about it, because I wanted to be more informed before giving my opinion.

The anonymous source that sent me the scans of letters from the archive of Roy Welensky (I have three, one of them is published here), also sent photos of the crash site and wreckage of the Albertina in Ndola. Some of the photos I recognized from Susan Williams book Who Killed Hammarskjold?, but many I had never seen before.

In one photo, labelled “Offloading wreckage of DC-6B SE-BDY prior to burial at Ndola airport”, you see white men standing around, talking to each other, while black men work to offload the wreckage from the back of a truck into a pit, which has been made by a nearby bulldozer that is preparing to flatten everything before burying it all. I don’t understand why the plane had to be buried, it makes no sense to me. Is it normal to bury planes like this? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

In another photo, labelled “Location of levelled site with “burial party” Messrs. J.D. Williams (Ndola Airport Manager) H.C. Bowell (Aircraft Engineer) M.C.H. Barber (Director of Civil Aviation) and M. Madders (Chief Aircraft Engineer)”, you see these four white men, standing side by side in the bulldozer tracks of the freshly covered grave of the Albertina, smiling, hands on hips, a pipe in the mouth of the Ndola Airport Manager. They look rather pleased with themselves.

But the most troubling thing I received were the autopsy photos of Dag Hammarskjold, six of them. I don’t know how many people have seen these photos, but they are shocking, and very sad. The post mortem of Hammarskjold makes no mention of the playing card that was placed in his shirt collar (an ace of spades, supposedly, which was from decks of playing cards found scattered at the scene) but there it was, very clearly seen in the three photos taken at the crash site. The card also appears to have been adjusted to its side in one photo. Even if it was placed there as a sick joke, it certainly lends a sinister note to the whole macabre scene. The three photos from the crash site show him on a stretcher, his clothes unburned and intact, his face streaked with blood, and the other three were taken in the mortuary, but there is no photo evidence of the actual place where Hammarskjold’s body was found. I wish I could publish these photos, so people could see for themselves, but I’ve been asked to keep them private.

Having seen them, I found myself very upset at Brian Urquhart after reading this passage he wrote in his biography of Hammarskjold:

“Hammarskjold was thrown clear of the wreckage and alone among the victims, was not burned at all. Although the post mortem showed that he had probably lived for a short time after the crash, his injuries–a severely fractured spine, several broken ribs, a broken breastbone, a broken thigh, and severe internal hemorrhaging–were certainly fatal. He was lying on his back near a small shrub which had escaped the fire, his face extraordinarily peaceful, a hand clutching a tuft of grass.”

Did Urquhart look at the same photos I did? Because the face of Hammarskjold does not look “extraordinarily peaceful” to me, it looks beaten and bloodied. And just like the post mortem report, Urquhart makes no mention of the obvious playing card. What was the point of this omission, if not to cover up the horror of the situation? These are just my observations.

Unfortunately, Urquhart was of the opinion that the testimonies of African witnesses who saw the Albertina followed closely by smaller planes just before the crash, and any other theory of murder, were just “fantasy”, as he writes in the epilogue of the biography:

“Although there is a large–and still growing–literature on Hammarskjold’s death, it is significant that none of those who cling to the idea that he was murdered in one way or another have seen fit to demand a new inquiry or to present serious evidence. The main conspiracy theories put forward are mutually exclusive–if one is true, all the others must be false–and so far none of them is backed by anything more than rumor, speculation, and fantasy.”

Urquhart wrote this back in 1972, but I wonder if he still holds the same opinion after reading Susan Williams book, and the September 2013 Report from the Hammarskjold Commission. After all these years have gone by, I have to ask, why is there still so much secrecy about what happened to Hammarskjold?

Medal of Saint Bernard

From the estate of Vladimir Fabry, here are a few items of interest. First, the “Notice of Death” from Ndola, Northern Rhodesia:
(click images to enlarge)
Vlado Notice of Death Northern Rhodesia

The same notice would have been sent to the families of the other crash victims, who should be remembered here for their sacrifice:
H. A. Wieschoff
William Ranallo
Alice Lalande
Harold M. Julien
Serge L. Barrau
Francis Eivers
Per Hallonquist
Nils-Eric Aahreus
Lars Litton
Nils Goran Wilhelmsson
Harald Noork
Karl Erik Rosen
S.O. Hjelte
P.E. Persson

The post mortem of Vlado says his body was badly burned, and that he was identified by a monogrammed signet ring, so it was surprising to find this letter, and to learn I was in possession of at least one artifact from the crash:
Estate of Vladimir Fabry

November 9, 1961
ESTATE OF VLADIMIR FABRY

Memorandum re contents of a sealed package delivered by Geneva Headquarters of United Nations to Miss Olga I. Fabry on October , 1961.

The box was tied with brown cord and the cord sealed with a metal U.N. seal. Attached to the box was an envelope from the United Nations Organization in the Congo marked “Urgent, Confidential”, addressed to Mr. John Olver of the the European office of the United Nations in Geneva. The envelope was marked “If Mr. Olver is absent, to be opened by Mr. A. Marx, Chief of Personnel.”

On opening the envelope it was found to contain a letter marked “Confidential”, dated September 29, 1961 addressed to Mr. Olver and signed by Mr. B. Grunzweig. The letter concerned the estate of the late Dr. Vladimir Fabry and stated that the writer understood that the package contained partially destroyed or burned money, travellers’ checks and notebooks belonging to Dr. Fabry. It was requested that the package be delivered to Dr. Fabry’s family, since it might be possible to recover some of the money contained therein. A copy of the letter is attached hereto.

On breaking the seal and opening the package, it was found to contain an envelope in which the following documents and currency were enclosed, all party burned and in the case of some of the currency, badly burned and difficult to decipher. The badly burned currency was in a separate envelope. On the top of the package of burned currency there appeared to be a partially burned folded bill on which the letters “llars” appeared. From what could be seen of the bill, it appeared to be U.S. currency, the denomination unknown. The bills in this package are compacted and stuck together, and they are badly burned. For that reason no attempt was made to separate these bills in order that the same in their present condition might be presented to the proper U.S. officials for examination.

The other contents of the envelope are the following:

1. A number of identification cards of the late Dr. Fabry.
2. American Express travellers’ checks partially burned on one side although readily decipherable, consisting of seven checks of $20 each bearing serial numbers Z35-790-419/425.
3. U.S. currency partially burned along one side but decipherable, consisting of 3 $10 bills and 5 $1 bills.
4. 2 Swiss 20 franc notes, partially burned along one side but readily decipherable.
5. 3 Belgian franc notes in denominations of 20, 50 and 100, respectively.
6. One singed blank airmail envelope.
7. One St. Bernard’s medal.

Though I have looked, I have found no sign of the burned notebooks. Here is all that remains from the crash, from the last moments of Vlado’s life, one St. Bernard’s medal, which I now carry as my own good luck charm:

Vlado St Bernard Medal 1
Vlado St Bernard Medal 2

“…the case is not dead.”

There has been good news from the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that I wanted to share here. From the UNRIC website (United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe):

11 February 2014 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked to inform the General Assembly on a new report on the death of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.
In a letter to the President of the General Assembly the Secretary-General requests that the subject should be included in the agenda of its current session since “new evidence… has come to his attention.”
In the letter Mr Ban writes that a report of a commission of jurist on the death of Hammarskjöld had been presented to him in September 2013. In late December and on one earlier occasion, information the commission had relied on had been delivered to the UN. The commission called for a formal investigation on the death of Hammarskjöld and 15 others in a plane crash in North-Rhodesia, now Zambia, in 1961.

Here is a link to the Official UN document, from 5 February 2014, signed by Ban Ki-moon:

http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/232

I’d like to extend my appreciation and thanks to the Secretary General for this inclusion request to the 68th General Assembly. The fact that the NSA won’t release the information it has from the night of the crash, because of “national security reasons”, should only make us more determined to get to the truth.

From the 17th session of the General Assembly, 26 October 1962, here are the comments of Mr. Malalasekera of Ceylon, who presented the resolution to keep the case open:

We have heard the report of the Commission as presented by the representative of Nepal. As will be seen from the document A/L.397, the Government of Ceylon, along with other co-sponsers, has drafted a resolution now in the hands of delegations.

The draft resolution which I have the honour to introduce, because of the nature of the inconclusive findings of the Commission, cannot be regarded as either happy or satisfactory. The Commission itself acknowledges the fact that its members were not able to determine the cause of the crash. The co-sponsors of the resolution are of the opinion, therefore, that much remains to be found out. The world knows that some facts have not been ascertained and could not be, but this acknowledgement can scarcely be regarded as a source of satisfaction or balm to a world public opinion shocked by the tragedy of foul play–we do not know which–that befell the head of the United Nations under circumstances and in places which are even now under grave suspicion by honest men everywhere.

For this reason, we have inserted in the last paragraph a provision requesting the Acting Secretary-General to keep the case open and to inform the Assembly of any new developments. However, it would appear to my delegation on second thought–we have not had the time to consult our co-sponsors–that, bearing in mind the thinking behind this last provision, the draft resolution might be made more precise and much stronger. For example, we might note, as part of the draft resolution, that the Commission had great difficulty in arriving at conclusive and definitive findings on many aspects of the case. We could also request the Acting Secretary-General in stronger terms to maintain constant vigilance for fresh evidence.

My delegation, while introducing the draft resolution, would therefore be interested to hear the reactions, if any, of the representatives of the co-sponsoring Governments to my suggestion.

We do not like to use more time than is absolutely necessary, but the memory of a great man and the prestige of this Organization should be worth a brief delay if you, Mr. President, after hearing subsequent speakers, if there are any, deem it fitting or necessary to give more time for consideration of the draft resolution. The man who was our chief may be dead, but the case of his death is far from dead. And if we believe this, we should take a little more time to make sure that the case is not dead.

Letter from High Commissioner of South Africa, H.L.T. Taswell, 29 September 1961

Vlado cityscene
Having spent so much time thinking about the life of Vlado Fabry, it has been impossible not to care about the way he died, and to want to know the truth about what happened. I’ve been reading every book and article I can find on the subject, but, for me, just reading the 1962 reports of the UN and Rhodesian Commissions investigation of the crash has been very revealing, especially in regards to Fouga Magisters which, I am convinced, shot down the Secretary General’s plane and caused it to crash on the night of 17/18 September, 1961. There were many Africans who saw one or two smaller planes following the DC-6 SE-BDY, but when they were interviewed by the Rhodesian and UN Commissions, they were treated like ignorant children and their testimonies were dismissed as fantasy. I learned a lot more about their treatment in Goran Bjorkdahl and Jacob Phiri’s excellent 2013 article for INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING, Eyewitnesses: The Hammarskjold Plane Crash. From the article, here is one particularly awful comment from UN consultant Hugo Blandiori:

‘Thus, when it is taken into consideration that some of the African witnesses had lack of knowledge in air-plane identification, were of limited learning and might have been motivated by personal or political reasons, it becomes difficult in assessing the truth of their statements…As a consequence, I am of the opinion that the testimony of the African witnesses to the effect that they saw one or two small crafts flying along with SE-BDY just prior to its crash, has to be accepted with a grain of salt’.

I have provided here a few excerpts from both the Rhodesian and United Nations Commission, in order for you to appreciate the context of the following letter, which was written by former High Commissioner of South Africa, H.L.T.Taswell, on 29 September 1961, and was found in the archive of former Prime Minister of the British territory of the Central African Federation Sir Roy Welensky. A scan of the letter was sent to me by an anonymous source. I’m not positive if this particular letter is still considered “TOP SECRET”, but it won’t be anymore. It belongs in the public domain.

“At the outset we would say no reason was suggested, and we cannot think of one, why anyone who might have been able to attack this aircraft from the air should ever have wanted to attack it as it carried Mr. Hammarskjold on the mission he was then undertaking.”
(Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Report of the Commission on the Accident Involving Aircraft SE-BDY, chaired by Sir John Clayden, Chief Justice of the Federation, presented to the Federal Assembly, Salisbury, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; February 1962; Annex III, p.20, par.10)

“On landing at Leopoldville [the morning of 17 September 1961], [Flight Engineer] Wilhelmson had reported that SE-BDY had been fired on at the takeoff from Elisabethville. A thorough inspection of the aircraft was accordingly carried out under the supervision of Chief Mechanic Tryggvason of Transair. In the course of the inspection it was found that number 2 engine (inboard port) had been struck by a bullet, which had penetrated the engine cowling and hit the exhaust pipe. The exhaust pipe was replaced and the plane refueled to a total of ten tons.”
(…)
“The Commission further notes that no flight plan for the SE-BDY was transmitted to Salisbury. The Commission has taken into consideration the conditions existing in the Congo at the time and in particular the danger of an attack from the “Fouga Magister” which explains this departure from the rules governing commercial aviation. Indeed, the system of aeronautical communications cannot ensure the secrecy of messages”
(…)
“It is also relevant to observe that, because of the danger of an attack from the “Fouga Magister”, most of the flights in the Congo at the time were undertaken at night”
(…)
“The possibility of other aircraft being in the area of Ndola at the time of the crash was examined. Since the “Fouga Magister” of the Katangese Armed Forces had been operating against the United Nations in Katanga, the possibility of its reaching Ndola was examined by the Rhodesian Board of Investigation and the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry. It was established that it could not have made the flight from its normal base in Kolwezi to Ndola and returned to Kolwezi since the distance is greater than its operational range. It was also stated by its captain and others that the “Fouga” was on the ground at Kolwezi the night of 17/18 September and could not have operated that night. This evidence is not entirely conclusive since the captain admitted before the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry that on at least one occasion the “Fouga” had taken off from an unpaved track. While this track was said to be at an even greater distance from Ndola, nothing would appear to preclude the use of a track within range of Ndola. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the “Fouga” was in the vicinity of Ndola on the night of the crash.”
(…)
“The Commission has, however, been informed that no radar watch was maintained in the Ndola area during the evening and night of 17 September 1961 and, therefore, the possibility of an “unknown aircraft” cannot be entirely excluded.”
(…)
“Certain witnesses testified that they saw or heard a second, or even third, plane. In particular, some of these testified that they saw a second smaller aircraft flying close to SE-BDY after it had passed over the airport or immediately before the crash and that the smaller aircraft was beaming lights on the larger. The Commission visited with some of these witnesses the spots from which their observations had been made and endeavored to obtain an understanding of their testimony. The Commission considers that several of these witnesses were sincere in their accounts of what they believed they saw.
The Commission is also of the opinion, however, that those witnesses may have misinterpreted their observations and reported some incidents which may not in fact have occurred in the way or at the time that they believed when they testified before the Commission.”
(United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Commission of the Investigation into the Conditions and Circumstances Resulting in the Tragic Death of Mr. Hammarskjold and the Members of the Party Accompanying Him, chaired by Rishikesh Shaha (UN A/5069); 24 April 1962; par. 69, 82, 89, 135, 136)

“TOP SECRET”

Salisbury S.R.
29th September, 1961

Dear Mr. Jooste,

As you will know, I had correspondence, during your absence, with our Minister regarding a suggestion made by Mr. Harper, Leader of the Opposition in Southern Rhodesia, that we assist in the establishment of an English language paper in this territory. The Minister’s reply is dated 5th September, 1961.

I have since had a further talk with Mr. Harper and explained the position to him. He will be visiting South Africa one of these days to have a discussion with Minister de Klerk on our Immigration laws. I will write to you again in due course on this matter.

Another approach for the establishment of an English language paper in Southern Rhodesia has since been made to me. It comes from quite a different quarter – namely from Mr. John Gaunt, Independent Member for Lusaka West, Northern Rhodesia, in the Federal Assembly. Particulars of Mr. Gaunt, taken from page 940-92 of the Who’s Who of Southern Africa 1961 are attached.

Mr. Gaunt is a colourful, outspoken and irrepressible politician who has a considerable following in this country. I would be inclined to describe him as the Arthur Marlow of the Federation. He is a fighter, a strong protagonist of the maintenance of white civilisation, yet not a supporter of our Government’s policy in its entirety. At the same time he is not an open or malicious critic of ours but a good friend.

A summary of what Mr. Gaunt had to say during the interview is attached.

Very briefly, his suggestion is that we make about £300,000 available through commercial interests in South Africa for the establishment of an English language paper here. This would be in opposition to the Argus press which is dedicated to the appeasement of “black nationalism” and aims at inducing whites to hand over control to a black majority as quickly as possible.

If £300,000 seems a great deal of money it should, he says, be borne in mind that it is barely the cost of a medium size commercial aircraft.

Mr. Gaunt does not feel that the proposed paper could dedicate itself to applying our racial policy in this country. The position here has already changed too much for that. But what it could do is ensure that the present constitution is rigorously adhered to. The Governments in Southern Rhodesia and the Federation should not be allowed to use the present constitution just as a temporary measure and as a means of sliding towards a still more liberal constitution.

Mr. Gaunt also feels that this paper would be able to further South Africa’s interests greatly by concentrating on favourable positive information. Such a paper if air mailed to South Africa each day could also serve a valuable purpose in our country and would assist the Government.

Mr. Gaunt would like to be made editor-in-chief so that he could give the correct slant to reports. He does not want to be responsible in any way for the financial side.

To me this idea of an independent paper has great appeal. Any opposition here is completely frustrated through having no paper. The Argus group is so powerful, moreover, that it could go far to breaking even the most established politician who does not follow its particular line – and I do not exclude Sir Roy Welensky.

Nearly two years ago Anglo-American and NST[? abbreviation unclear] withdrew their financial support of the United Federal Party. It looked then as if they were going to support Todd who was given a tremendous boost by the press because of his liberal line. Now the U.F.P. are following the liberal line themselves, Todd is in the background, Anglo-American and NST[?]have, I hear, restored their financial support of the U.F.P. and the Argus press are supporting the party. That the United Federal Party have been forced to toe the line by Argus press is no secret to us in South Africa.

The future say of the white man in the Government of this country does not look rosy. Banda has control in Nyasaland, Kaunda may, through British action, still attain a similar position in Northern Rhodesia. Southern Rhodesia’s new constitution could be merely the first step towards giving greater say to the black man here. The Federal constitution when revised must follow the pattern of the constitutions of the three constituent territories. That means infinitely greater say for the black man in the Federal Assembly. Such say will have to be very considerable indeed if Banda is to be induced to stay in the Federation.

Sir Roy and the United Kingdom are already at loggerheads over the talks on the Federal constitution. Sir Roy wanted them now. The United Kingdom wants postponement, no doubt with the object of further appeasement in Northern Rhodesia and conditioning of white feeling to a black majority government.

There is strong and bitter feeling in this country against the United Kingdom. Given an independent press it could be fanned to a point where the United Kingdom could be seriously embarrassed, and where Southern Rhodesia could still be saved, where it could break from the Federation and become independent. There are many influential men here would gladly grasp a weapon like an independent paper.

There are many seeds of discontent. This week we heard rumours of a serious division in the Federal Cabinet. The Deputy Governor of the Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, told me only a few days ago too that the financial picture here is far from rosy. The “expected” recovery after the Southern Rhodesia referendum has not materialized. The number of people who voted “yes” at that referendum and now feel they were duped and should have voted “no” is increasing. Properly exploited this discontent could have a marked influence when Southern Rhodesia goes to the polls in about a year’s time.

If the United Federal Party and the Argus press continue unchecked, it is merely a matter of time before our buffer zone north melts away. With an independent paper we could stave that day off and could even preserve the Southern Rhodesia[border? word obscured]with its 215,000 whites(2,630,000 blacks).

As Mr. Gaunt points out it is surely to our interest to have the main struggle for survival take place in Southern Rhodesia rather in South Africa.

A Canadian group is now negotiating for the purchase of African Newspapers here. One can imagine the kind of vitriol the Canadians would be capable of using against us.

The “Citizen”, Mr. Gaunt says, could be bought by us for a song. An immediate start could be made with a paper. Improvements could follow.

The Argus will try to kill any independent paper and financial losses must be expected. But would they not be worthwhile? We are fighting for our lives. They are fighting for a black majority government, for cheap labour and greater profits.

H.L.T. Taswell
High Commissioner

This letter perfectly illustrates how propaganda works, and it’s a history lesson on racism, and the lengths men will go to defend their right to it. Even though the Fouga Magister is a small fighter jet, the sentence about an independent paper being less expensive to purchase to defend their racial policy than “a medium size commercial aircraft” gave me a chill, because this written only 11 days after the crash. No wonder they hated Hammarskjold so much – what was the fragrance of life to the African was the stench of death to white rule.